Snow cones and cotton candy. Nachos with cheese and jalapeños. And let’s not forget the corn dogs (my personal downfall). Yes, this is the right time. This weekend alone, I counted four departmental fairs in our region.
Fair-trade cooking doesn’t have to plunge us into a food coma every year. But consider this from Dr. Steven E. Nissen, academic director of the Heart and Vascular Institute at the Cleveland Clinic: According to Nissen, the most atherogenic (i.e., one that promotes heart disease) food in the world is a Mars. fried. bar. If you haven’t seen this just delicacy, it’s a Mars brand chocolate bar covered in batter and then dipped in boiling fat.
The nutritional value? About 600 calories and about two tablespoons of fat per serving, most of which is saturated fat that sticks to the arteries.
I know I know. Fair weather calls for momentary indulgences. What is life if you can’t dip into a gooey treat every now and then?
The problem is, says Nissen, that there is no known drug that we can currently take to counteract the excess waste that we seem to be carrying into our bodies… not just at the right time.
At a recent conference sponsored by the Barbara Davis Center for Diabetes at the University of Colorado, Nissen told us that a poor diet surpasses anything medical experts have done so far to reduce heart disease. How? ‘Or’ What? Abdominal obesity (excess fat that hangs around our midsections) spills over into the liver, heart, and muscles and interferes with the health of all of these organs. This can eventually lead to heart disease, diabetes, and a shortened lifespan.
So how can we enjoy our beloved fair trade food and not fall off the Ferris wheel from a stroke or heart attack? Here are some suggestions:
• Be picky. There are a lot of “it’s probably a better choice than that” among your usual fair trade selections. Corn on the cob or turkey thigh can be just as fun and a lot less damaging than fried chicken and gravy in a waffle cone. Or maybe a frozen lemonade for the fried Oreos.
• Ask yourself these questions: How important is it for me to add that luscious lump of fat and sugar to my body? If I eat this, will I feel a) intensely satisfied? b) like a swollen water buffalo? c) or like I spent my day at the fair and everything is fine with the world? Then choose accordingly.
Also remember that the dose makes the poison. Balance a blown day at the fair with a light, light tomorrow… like plain water and a gastric pump for example. I laugh. Enjoy!
Barbara Quinn-Intermill is a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist and Diabetes Care Specialist affiliated with the Monterey Peninsula Community Hospital. She is the author of Quinn-Essential Nutrition: The Uncomplicated Science of Eating. Email him at [email protected]